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Green, Aiona win party nominations in Hawaii’s race for governor

Lt. Gov. Josh Green (D) and former lieutenant governor Duke Aiona (R) were projected to win their respective gubernatorial primaries, according to the AP

The Hawaii Capitol in Honolulu. (Audrey Mcavoy/AP)

Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green (D) was projected to win the Democratic nomination for governor and will face former lieutenant governor Duke Aiona (R) in the race to succeed Gov. David Ige (D), who’s ending his second term with low approval ratings.

The Associated Press on Saturday also said former state senator Jill Tokuda was projected to win the Democratic nomination in the open 2nd Congressional District race.

The Democratic nominees will begin the general election as early favorites in the blue state.

Green ran for the Democratic nomination against former Hawaii first lady Vicky Cayetano and Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele. Four other Democrats were on the ballot, but Green consistently led in polls leading up to the primary. A medical doctor, Green became the public face of Hawaii’s aggressive response to the coronavirus pandemic, including a long-running requirement that travelers to the state provide negative tests or proof of vaccination.

“I’ve become like a part of the family for most of the state,” Green, 52, told The Washington Post before his campaign launch in February. Cayetano, 66, got into the race last summer, and Kahele, 48, abandoned his safe House seat in May after a single term to run for governor, focusing on campaign finance reform.

In the campaign’s final weeks, Cayetano and Kahele went negative against Green, holding a joint news conference to demand more transparency of his personal finances. In May, a super PAC opposing Green began running ads about his medical credentials, pointing out that he isn’t “board certified,” though certification isn’t required to practice medicine in Hawaii.

The attacks did little to slow down Green. In debates and TV ads, he called his opponents desperate and promised to build more housing to tackle soaring costs and reduce homelessness.

National Republicans have not targeted the race, after investing in Aiona’s 2014 campaign, only to see him lose, to Ige, by more than 12 points. Aiona, 67, entered this year’s race right before the filing deadline, and has led in polls but raised less than $24,000 for his comeback bid — about a tenth as much as retired MMA fighter BJ Penn, 43, his leading rival for the nomination.

Green has raised nearly $1.5 million, and David Turner, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association, said that the party sees the Hawaii race as “safe.” The Republican Governors Association did not respond to a request for comment.

The final weeks of the 2nd Congressional District primary transformed into an expensive battle between Tokuda, 46, a liberal backed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and state Rep. Patrick Branco, 35, who shares most of her positions and has the support of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Both candidates support an assault weapons ban, Medicare-for-all legislation and codifying Roe v. Wade. Few policy differences emerged in the three months since Kahele decided to abandon a safely Democratic seat that President Biden carried by 30 points. But last-minute spending from Web3 Forward, a super PAC funded by cryptocurrency investors, attacked Tokuda for winning a National Rifle Association endorsement in a previous race.

“All of these hit pieces that have been out against me, quite frankly, I’ve been devastated by them,” Tokuda said in a debate this month, denouncing the role played by “dark money from the mainland.” The 2nd Congressional District covers most of Hawaii’s territory, outside of populous Oahu.

In the Honolulu-based 1st Congressional District, Rep. Ed Case defeated Sergio Alcubilla in the Democratic primary, the AP projected. Alcubilla is an activist and nonprofit director who entered the race after Case, 69, joined other centrist Democrats in demanding a vote on last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill before action on the party’s social spending and climate package.

The 1st Congressional District, which backed Biden by 29 points in 2020, was the most Democratic seat represented by any member who demanded that infrastructure spending be separated from the “Build Back Better” bill. The latter was stalled for months until a revamped version of it was restored in the Inflation Reduction Act. Some unions and liberal groups have endorsed Alcubilla, 43, who spent a bit more than $100,000 on his primary while Case spent close to $500,000.

Both House seats are rated as safely Democratic in November by the Cook Political Report. Former congressman Charles Djou, the last Republican elected to Congress from Hawaii, left the GOP in 2018 and endorsed Biden for president in 2020.

Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz also easily won his primary, the AP projected, and will begin as a heavy favorite to retain his seat in November.

Hawaii elections are conducted via ballots mailed to voters. For the primary, the deadline for ballots to be received was 7 p.m. local time on Saturday.

Understanding the 2022 Midterm Elections

November’s midterm elections are likely to shift the political landscape and impact what President Biden can accomplish during the remainder of his first term. Here’s what to know.

When are the midterm elections? The general election is Nov. 8, but the primary season is nearing completion, with voters selecting candidates in the New York and Florida primaries Tuesday. Here’s a complete calendar of all the primaries in 2022.

Why are the midterms important? The midterm elections determine control of Congress: The party that has the House or Senate majority gets to organize the chamber and decide what legislation Congress considers. Thirty six governors and thousands of state legislators are also on the ballot. Here’s a complete guide to the midterms.

Which seats are up for election? Every seat in the House and a third of the seats in the 100-member Senate are up for election. Dozens of House members have already announced they will be retiring from Congress instead of seeking reelection.

What is redistricting? Redistricting is the process of drawing congressional and state legislative maps to ensure everyone’s vote counts equally. As of April 25, 46 of the 50 states had settled on the boundaries for 395 of 435 U.S. House districts.

Which primaries are the most competitive? Here are the most interesting Democratic primaries and Republican primaries to watch as Republicans and Democrats try to nominate their most electable candidates.